Saudi Arabia's King Fahd died today at age 83 and was succeeded by Crown Prince Abdullah, his half brother. In 2001, Bryan Curtis explained who wields the power in the 6,000-member Saudi royal family, noting that Crown Prince Abdullah had been the de facto king since Fahd's first stroke in 1995. "Royal-family watching is an even more difficult art than Kremlin watching was during the Cold War," wrote Curtis. "This much can be said of Abdullah's politics: He is deeply religious and hews closely to the kingdom's Islamic clerics. He moves more cautiously than his predecessor when engaging with the United States."
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